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122_box_348x490_originalViet Dinh

Street Address · City, State, Zip · (XXX) XXX-XXXX · email@email.com



CHARISMATIC, GOALS-FOCUSED PROFESSIONAL

Top producer with a distinguished track records in sales, customer service and client management

Best-of-Breed Go-Getter — Outside-Of-Box Strategic Thinker — Value-Added Self-Motivatior — Hard-Working Thought-Leader — Results-Driven Team Player — Detail-Oriented Go-To Person

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

Leveraged acumen to drive consistent increase in sales profits. Extensive experience in client satisfaction, appreciation and retention. Outstanding communication, networking, selling, customer service and negotiation skills. Adept at determining customer requirements and engaging in client-focused problem solving. Proven track record with bottom-line results.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

Regional Sales Manager
Aurora Sentinel, Aurora, CO (1988)

Hands-on experience with all aspects of sales process, from initial processing of newspapers (tri-folding, rubber-banding, and wrapping in poly-plastic bags, depending on weather). Used varied and dynamic methods to achieve efficient distribution channels, including pedestrian-focused doorstep dropping, tossing from the handlebars of a wobbly bicycle, or flinging from the back of a Toyota 4-Runner driven by delivery associate. Took initiative when gathering monthly ‘donation,’ since newspaper was considered ‘free.’ Stoic in the face of slammed doors and irate customers insisting they had canceled their ‘subscription’ and no longer wanted product. Saved resources by noting addresses and not delivering product, subsequently recycling stacks of unused product at King Soopers for pennies on the dollar. Penetrated key prospective accounts while receiving payment, taking note of extensive wood-paneling, dun carpeting, wafts of cigarette smoke. Adopted innovative approach to increasing revenue, relying on innocent, doe-eyed look to extract tips more effectively.

Account Executive
World’s Finest Chocolate, Aurora, CO (1984)

Proactively recruited and retained secondary sales force. Spearheaded workplace entrepreneurship, delegating tasks as necessary to maternal and paternal contractors. Mentored members of sales team, insisting that catalog rewards were not the end goal. Instead encouraged civic pride in Parklane Elementary School, in spite of established sales quotas necessary to earn year-end bonus. Generated adequate volume with new accounts despite heavy competition from other independent sales associates accessing the same markets. Expedited sales by eating product, five-inch chocolate bars with the color and texture of a paper bag, a single almond in each segment. Compared product to others on the market to gauge marketing strategy, decided on innovative approach of not mentioning flavor whatsoever. Achieved and exceeded sales goal when contractors pooled resources and announced, ‘Look, it’s just easier for us to buy you whatever you want from the catalog.’ Donated all proceeds to local charitable organization, left on good terms after the 5th grade.

Area Sales Associate
Innisbrook Wrapping Paper, Aurora, CO (1982)

Accountable for all aspects of sales, business development and client management. Effectively prospected clients door-to-door using a hard-copy, glossy catalog. Pursued leads to generate revenue growth. Emphasized the need for foil-embossed wrapping paper and the indispensability of having several rolls on-hand at all times. Generated leads in a four-house radius, cultivated person-to-person contact. Wrote order forms, negotiated delivery dates. Prepared closing documents, eyed prizes in the rewards catalog: Atari 2600, Huffy Bike, Personal Gumball Machine (gumballs not included). Earned erasers in the shape of monsters.

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121_box_348x490_originalAlternative Viet #1: This Viet knows what he wants and gets it, always. In high school, this Viet isn’t the shy and sheltered teenager who is constantly surprised to discover that his classmates are, indeed, having sex. Instead, this Viet is sexually active and sophisticated, having both male and female lovers. This Viet doesn’t stare at people longingly, wondering what it would be like to love and feel love, but is already jaded about the whole deal, with the insouciance of a European playboy. This Viet doesn’t stay home on the weekends, listening to Saint Etienne’s So Tough album on endless repeat, translating British ennui into a more pedestrian, suburban heartbreak. No. This Viet is not at all like the other one.

Alternative Viet #2: This Viet has adopted Viet #1 as his own. It’s college, after all: who here knows who the ‘real’ Viet is, except for the daughter of the Asian supermarket owner? And how often will their paths cross? Very rarely, this Viet realizes. The time has come for a reinvention, for a radical makeover, and this Viet can be whoever he wants. This Viet creates his own myths and disseminates them as far as they will travel, because if enough people believe a story, doesn’t it, in fact, become true, like a dream made flesh? If he insists on the primacy of this Viet, the other Viets will fade away, become distant, apocryphal memories, almost as if they never existed, and no one would be the wiser.

Alternative Viet #3: This Viet is in trouble. He has been called to the carpet to reconcile the differences between the various Viets.  B___ waits for him to explain. B___ is this Viet’s first boyfriend, and this Viet wants to get this right. But the history he has given B___ does not comport with the histories of Viets #1 and #2, which Viet’s friends have shared. How can there be so many Viets running around? Who is the ‘real’ Viet? B___ says that he understands the urge to become someone new. Who doesn’t want to be cooler than he really is? B___ says, even though B___, himself, has gone the opposite direction, converting to Catholicism from Protestantism because Protestants aren’t ‘by the Book’ enough. This Viet wonders: what difference would it make if the history he’s told B___ is the ‘real’ history—the virginal history, the history of sexually inexperience and ineptitude? What if all the Viets have begun to bleed together, the confidence of the other Viets giving this one more of a sense of self-worth? Why would anyone ever want to be a normal Viet, confused and stumbling about, when there are other Viets out there in the world, Viets who know what they’re doing, Viets who make no apologies, Viets who might be able to tell him the right thing to say to B___ so that the surgical excision of the other Viets from this one won’t hurt as much.

118_sull_originalWhen Veronica Lake and Joel McCrea enter the flophouse, they look around, dismayed. Sleeping vagrants litter the floor in a knot of rags, and when Lake and McCrea find a free spot, they curl into a protective cocoon, batting away strange, errant limbs. On the wall is a curious sign:  Have You Written Your Mother?  Those thick block letters have an oddly chiding tone, a schoolmarm’s fat finger waving at those unfortunates who have just endured a fiery sermon to sleep here.

No, I have not written to my mother. I call, though not as frequently as she would like. My father answers and pretends I’m a stranger: Who’s this? he asks, as if caller ID weren’t a built-in feature of their life.  My mother replaces Hello with Why haven’t you called? As she runs through her litany of concern (Have you gone to the dentist? Found a permanent job yet? Get your flu shot?), I feel like I’m eight, and I wait, irritably, until I finally become an adult, and she tells me what’s been going on at temple, with her friends, in the family.

She sends out emails too, though her use of diacritical marks depends on which computer she’s using. Behind the desk in the computer room (my old bedroom), my father has taped a sampler of the Vietnamese fonts he’s downloaded. With these, the accents are accessible via keystrokes. I imagine her sitting there, tapping out appropriate vowel tones. But if she’s in her own room, sitting up in her waterbed, tablet on her lap, I imagine that she most likely can’t be bothered.  It doesn’t matter, really, if the marks are there or not, since I’m barely literate in Vietnamese. I scan the email for words I immediately recognize— root canal, endodonist, dental insurance, osteoporosis—and infer the rest. The diacritical marks dot the screen like dust.

But my mother also writes letters, short communiqués on the free notepads charities send out when they try to guilt you into sending donations: Red Cross, World Wildlife Foundation, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Her handwriting is crisp and spiky, insisting that it be absolutely understood. Just a few words on each note: I’m sending you this check, it says, because of ____, and I’m forced to sound out each word, to remember which tone goes with which mark. The hỏi asks a question, and the ngã breaks. Sắc is like the French accent aigu, while huyền is the French grave, and nặng is the heavy thud, a cannonball of a vowel. The diacritics sometimes double up on the same vowel. Depending on its marking, the word ‘ma’ can mean: mother, or ghost, or however, or horse, or grave, or rice seedling.

My mother asks if I can read her notes, and I always answer yes, even if I can’t. I put her notes, folded in half, in the back of my desk, where they remind me: communicate.

116_box_348x490_original

A few years ago, as I was driving south down I-95 late one night, near the Pennsylvania-Delaware border, I saw a house on fire.  The highway was mostly empty, and I slowed to look.  Emergency responders were already on the scene, but they seemed on stand-by—the house looked like a total loss, and they were on-hand to keep the fire from spreading.  It was eerily beautiful, the way the flames ate away the night.  In my car, I could only imagine the intense heat, the smell of the cinders, the smoke of a person’s life in the air.  When I drive by that area now, if I remember, I look to see if I can find where the fire had taken place, but I can never find it.  Another house has already grown over that spot, I imagine, like scar tissue.

In The Hidden Fortress, revelers at a fire festival intone an existential prayer as they slouch their way around a bonfire.

The life of a man
Burn it with the fire
The life of an insect
Throw it in the fire
Ponder and you will see the world is dark
And this floating world is a dream
Burn with abandon

And at that last line, they dance in a frenzy.  And as a fortune in gold is added to the fire, a princess and her bodyguard, who have been trying to evade capture with the gold, abandon their worries and dance.  The two peasants who have been helping them, however, look at the fire with sadness and dismay—the gold they’ve tried to protect is now melting, and as the bonfire blazes, it burns away their hopes, their dreams, their futures.

I tell myself that if I ever suffer a catastrophic house fire, I won’t rebuild.  The things that can be replaced, I won’t replace.  The books, music, and movies that I’ve spent a lifetime collecting and curating, I will no longer need.  If I’m ever reduced to zero, I’ll somehow make peace with zero.  As 17th century poet Mizuta Masahide writes:

Since my house burned down
I now own a better view
of the rising moon.

Tonight, I returned home from a long day at work to find the house lit up with paper lanterns—the Harvest Moon Festival.   I walked in to see, in our dusky living room, warm, glowing colors, floating in space.  Each lantern a constellation, a nebuIa, a galaxy.  I hesitated:  Is this my house?  Yes, it was.  Matthew had used up the last of the tealights, including the red ones that smell faintly of bayberry.  Dinner was warm on the stove.  Afterwards, as we prepared to retire upstairs, Matthew said, Oh, the lanterns! and even though there was no risk of them catching on fire and burning the house down,  we went back to blow them out.  And from the second floor of the house, in the room we call the library, where I keep my autographed books and my Criterion Collection DVDs, we got a better view of the rising moon.

Matthew and I were visiting the father of one of his friends who owned a condo near Vail.  Neither he nor I skied, given our combined income at the time.  Vail Village can make you feel very poor very quickly.  Women in high heels navigate the cobblestones with effortless ease and whisk into shops with names that sound like aspirations:  Fantasia Furs, Jewels of the West, Worth Home.

At the Wedgwood storefront, I said, “Okay, let’s each pick a pattern,” because it’s a sure harbinger of doom when two gay men can’t agree on a china set.   But we concurred:  Persia.  We went into the store, were ignored by the shopkeepers, and walked back out.

*

The Wedgwood teapot (Jasperware, white-on-pale blue) that the Cary finds in All That Heaven Allows is a sure symbol of her materialism.  She’s drawn to it even though it’s in broken, and her love interest, the rugged Ron, takes it out of her hands and tells her that it was there for a reason:  it’s in pieces.  She looks at him, slightly embarrassed.  It’s only a god damn teapot, after all.

That teapot, nowadays, with its body restored, could probably fetch anywhere from $250-500 at auction.

*

Every year, Matthew’s relations in upstate New York ask him what he wants for Christmas.  They take the holiday and gift-giving very seriously, and his protests that he don’t need anything fall on deaf ears.  One year, I offered to help clear the table and stack the plates (Lenox, Eternal Gold-Banded) after dinner and was told, in no uncertain terms:  “We do not stack the plates.”

So we asked for our own china set, and not soon after, received place settings for eight (Wedgwood, India).

“One of these days,” Matthew says, “we’re actually going to use them.”

*

Ron repairs the teapot and surprises Cary with it.  It’s his invitation:  come live with me here, in this restored barn, in the forest.  But she can’t; she’ll miss her comforts, her standing in the community, her solid upper middle-class reputation.  As she gathers her coat to leave, the edge catches the teapot and it falls, breaking again—this time, irreparable.  Ron gathers the fragments and tosses them into the fireplace.

*

Yesterday, Matthew and I were in TJ Maxx, the sub-bourgeois discount store, stopping in just to stop in.  While I was deciding whether or not I needed a new tea strainer, he came up to me:  “Look what I found.”

A Wedgwood teapot (Notting Hill).  For $35.

“It can’t be real,” I said.

He turned it over.  It was, indeed, stamped Wedgwood.  He traced his finger along the platinum band ringing the teapot.  “Oh,” he said, “that’s why it’s here.”  The porcelain had a flaw, a dimpled acne scar on its side.  After Wedgwood emerged from bankruptcy proceedings in 2009, the company closed its plants in the UK and moved almost all of its production to Indonesia, where labor is approximately 85% cheaper.  At that time, as well, unemployment in Britain jumped almost 2.5% from a year earlier.

*

so much depends
upon

a blue Wedgwood
teapot

glazed with English
Breakfast

by the wood-burning
fireplace

 

In 1922, a gang of robbers hijacked a Federal Reserve Bank truck outside the Denver Mint, making off with $200,000 in five-dollar bills.  One security guard was killed.  One of the robbers, Nicholas “Chaw Jimmie” Trainor, deflected a shotgun round with his jaw and later died.  But none of the other six robbers was fingered for the robbery, though it’s believed that they were all eventually imprisoned for other crimes (like James “Oklahoma Jack” Clark) or killed in other circumstances.

Catchy as those nicknames are, however, no criminals come close to “Repulsive Rogan” or “Filthy McNasty,” the robbers in The Bank Dick.

The Denver Mint was a near-yearly elementary school pilgrimage, all the students trundling downtown with a brown-bag lunch in hand to learn about how pennies are pressed.  Not me, though.  My mother worked downtown, and I had lunch with her.  When someone asked where she worked, all I knew was that it was at a bank.  Later, I learned it was the Federal Reserve Bank, which sounded more important.

But what she did specifically, I still don’t know.  She was a clerk, verifying checks, I think; her exact job description was unclear.  All I knew was that she supplied my brief philatelist phase with stamps from around the world:  a green Jamaica with a worker in a sugar cane field; red triangular Indonesias; all manner of foreign rulers, smiling grimly.

After the tour, I met my mother for lunch.  The inside of the Federal Reserve seemed lacquered in gold, with severe 70s architectural flourishes that reminded me of dentist-office mobiles.  The cafeteria was on the second-floor and overlooked 16th Street before it had become a pedestrian mall.  Over the years, I watched the construction of the Tabor Center, the free shuttles puttering down the road, the opening of endless souvenir shops and the Rock Bottom Brewery across the street.  My mother’s co-workers commented how much I had grown since my last visit:  Tita, a Filipina and my mother’s best friend there.  Peter, who self-published poetry.

Security was loose those days.  I signed in and clipped a visitor’s badge to my chest.  My father could pull into the parking lot by announcing that he had come to pick up his wife, and as we drove out, my mother waved to the unseen guard behind the blackened window on Arapahoe Street — Egbert Sousè himself, perhaps.  At one Christmas party, the managers handed out baggies of shredded currency.

Over time, the Federal Reserve’s defenses grew more elaborate, more necessary.  Concrete barriers.  High walls topped with sharpened bars.  This was long before the Oklahoma City bombing.

But, by then, I had also outgrown spending afternoons with my mother.

The world honors the daring, the thieves.  No one remembers the functionaries, the Og Oggiblys who keep the world in working order.  Tita retired a few years before my mother.  Peter gave my mother a copy of his book for a retirement gift.  The stamps that my mother had ripped off envelopes so that I could steam away their backings and press dry between paper towels — those have been collected, mounted, forgotten.

 

As I write, there’s a piece of luggage on the floor of the study, semi-unpacked.  It should have been fully unpacked a week ago, but since then, it’s become a piece of furniture:  the cats play around it, sleep in it, make themselves comfortable in its presence.  Matthew looks at it pityingly.  He knows the more he mentions it, the more it becomes a permanent fixture.  Better to let the clothes get coated in cat fur.  That’ll teach him.

I’ve lived out of suitcases for weeks before.  Cardboard boxes, months.

I have a reason, this time, for not unpacking.  Soon, I will make a 2-hour drive to Washington, D.C., for the three-day Associated Writing Programs conference (sort of like the Modern Language Association conference but with 200% less despair and 200% more alcohol).  The sweaters stay put, as do the thick socks and other pieces of clothing designed to keep me warm.

A winter storm makes inexorable progress across the midsection of the United States, like a roll of unwanted flab.  It will soon suffocate the East Coast.  About 2 miles from our home, there’s a car buried to its windows in snow, victim of the previous storm.  A baby mammoth, separated from the herd, caught in ice.

Vagabond opens with a shot of a girl in a ditch, frozen to death.  When the police lift her into a body bag, her legs stay rigid.  They look as if they might snap off.

I’m neither worried about ice on the roads nor about my ability to maneuver through a skid.  I am worried about what I should have in the car but don’t:  flares, thermal blanket, reflective orange signs — things in case I end up in a ditch.  I could probably build a small shelter out of the clothes packed (or intended for packing) for the trip.

You could read my reluctance to unpack (ever!) as an indication that no place feels like home.  At any moment, I may have to uproot myself and settle someplace new.  Why, therefore, invest the energy to put away belongings when you might have to gather them up again?

You could also read the exact opposite:  this place where I’ve dropped my luggage — home — is where I feel comfortable enough to leave things in disarray, knowing that they’ll always be there (or, at least, until Matthew’s frustration reaches post-mettlesome levels).

(It could also be that I’m lazy.  Don’t ask Matthew what he thinks.)

Someone rather close to me once told me he had spent a short time homeless.  Only a week or so.  It was during the summertime so he could sleep on park benches without fear of hypothermia.  I wonder if this has affected his idea of ‘home.’ When he moves into a place, he immediately makes it his:  art on the walls, pictures on every horizontal surface, everything in place, everything in order.  It makes him feel safe, I think.  Content.

Mona, the titular Vagabond, carries her home — a thin red cloth tent — on her back.  It makes her feel similarly safe.

And then the cold closes in.

Sometimes after we’ve left a place, Matthew will pat his pockets and exclaim, “I’ve lost my keys (or wallet, or checkbook)!”  For a few minutes, he panics, but he always calms down when he finds the misplaced item, usually in an overlooked pocket.  The agitation is probably not good for his heart.

When I realize I’ve lost something, I give it up as gone forever.

Not far from our exit on I-95 (but still too far to turn back if one of us has forgotten something), a billboard displays the current Powerball jackpot in bright yellow letters, like a digital clock.  Every Thursday and Sunday, the number goes up or down.  I’ve never see the change, but I wonder if it’s like those train station announcement boards which flutter through every number until it reaches the correct one.

We tell ourselves, If the jackpot gets above $100 million, we’ll buy a ticket.  We repeat this as the number reaches 115, 132, 150, each time forgetting about the previous promise to buy a ticket.

When the newspaper runs stories about lottery winners, the winners’ material circumstances (truck driver, single mom, elderly widow living in a trailer) are always mentioned.  The winner inevitably thanks God.  In Le Million, when Michel strikes it rich, he doesn’t thank a higher power.  Instead, he dances with his neighbors in a long serpentine around his studio.

The losers are too numerous to warrant their own stories.  Some commentators call lotteries a regressive tax.  It’s the poor who buy tickets, and those funds funnel their way into government coffers.  Less charitable commentators call lotteries a tax on the stupid,but those commentators usually aren’t truck drivers, single moms, or elderly widows living in trailers.

When the Houston lottery reached a pharaonic two hundred thirty-seven million, some of Matthew’s colleagues at the Museum of Fine Arts formed a pool.  Everyone who put in a dollar would get part of the split.  (This is how we know that Michel is the virtuous one; when it’s unclear whether he or Prosper holds the winning ticket, he offers to split the winnings.  Prosper says no way.)

Over 80 people joined the Houston pool.  The organizer, an older African-American security guard, made a multi-page photocopy of all the tickets.  On the day of the drawing (perky announcer, ping-pong balls guided by the airburst of God), we flipped through the sheets, striking out page after page.

Given astronomical odds, buying 80 tickets is statistically indistinguishable from buying one.

Buying one ticket, however, is a 100% improvement versus buying none.  When Powerball recently reached 160 million, I stopped into by the newsstand near the University of Delaware and bought a ticket:  my chance to link hands with my creditors, to sing “Le Million!” 160 times.

I didn’t lose the ticket.  Matthew placed it in the hands of the bronze Buddha in the living room.  In a minor act of sacrilege, I lit a cone of incense and prayed for a winner.  That week, on the billboard, the number went up again.  No one wins.

You can’t watch Nights of Cabiria without falling in love with the title character:  she’s spunky, outspoken, fiery, proud, and, at her core, eminently hopeful.  She’s like a mouse encased by concrete.  Giulettta Masina plays Cabiria as a female Little Tramp (as opposed to a regular tramp, I suppose), replete with a cute blonde bob and a fake fur shoulder wrap.  She picks fights with stuck-up prostitutes and is spry enough to dash away from the cops when they raid.

What struck me most, however, was the community that the prostitutes had formed for themselves.  Sure, they teased and tussled and got into spats, but they also organized a carpool for themselves to the Feast of the Assumption.  There, as they bought candles and queued in the mass of good Catholics, they kept track of one another in the crowd, even as, one by one, they prostrated themselves before the Virgin Mary, to ask for a miracle.

I’ve known only a few prostitutes — and none in the Biblical sense.  Rather, in 1998, on a trip to Vietnam, my sister and I hung out with the various bar girls and rent boys in Saigon, though, for the life of me, I can’t remember any of their names now.  We saw them mainly at Apocalypse Now, open seven days a week until four in the morning or later, depending on how many people were dancing.  The dance floor was almost always full:  the music, a condensed overview of American pop hits from the 60s to the present.  The helicopter-rotor ceiling fans barely dried the sweat coming off all those bodies.

Apocalypse Now served soft drinks without ice, conscious of tourists who didn’t trust the water, but beer was the main beverage.  There was a two-tier pricing system:  Vietnamese, $2; foreigners, $3.  The lighting came from twenty-watt bulbs in frosted glass globes.  A bloody blotch of red paint covered each globe, dripping like a war wound.  The bar resembled a thatch hut, and a surfboard hung from the wall.  It read:  Charlie Don’t Surf.

Obviously, my sister and I weren’t the clientele for the working girls.  Whenever a Westerner walked in, bar girls surrounded him in a feeding frenzy, and we’d lose sight of him among the girls clinging to his arms, following him.  My sister would point and giggle with her slatternly pals, while I hung out mostly with the rail-thin, gay Vietnamese boys, all of whom, it seemed, had foreign boyfriends who sent them gifts:  clothes, cologne, occasionally cash.  They rarely, if ever, dated one another.

“It’s like dating your sister,” they told me.

One night, as we waited for our hotel to let us in (the doors were bolted at night, and metal grates were pulled around the premises; my sister and I had to ring a doorbell to wake the maids sleeping on the floor), she asked, “Why is it that, wherever we go, we always make friends with the fags and whores?”

I shrugged.  “Birds of a feather?”

She wasn’t pleased with my answer.

Right around the turn of the millennium, you couldn’t walk into a mid-to-high end home goods store — Anthropologie, for instance, or Pottery Barn — without being pummeled by Bebel Gilberto.  Her light, summery voice became simpatico with overpriced textiles and gewgaws, and store managers piped her into the atmosphere the way some automatic bathroom air fresheners pump out blasts of lilac and freesia.

Oh, Brazil, you’ve given us so much in terms of rhythm and fruit:  batucada, guarana, funk carioca, caipirinha, capoeira, açaí, — not to mention naked soccer players.  But I wonder if it galls to have a large part of your culture presented mostly through intermediaries.  For instance, long before Bebel Gilberto exploded on the scene, I had been listening to bossa nova as filtered through Europe.  It was Brazil processed by trip-hop beats — the more accessible version.

Maybe this is what’s happening in Black Orpheus:  a French director’s film about Brazil, as channeled through a Greek myth.  This is the exotic made palatable — everyday is Carnaval!  No one misses an opportunity to beat out a rhythm on an overturned plastic pail, people move through the streets in conga lines, and even children can play the guitar well enough to raise the sun.

A more recent criticism of Black Orpheus comes from a little-known autobiography entitled Dreams of My Father, in which the author recalls watching the film with his mother:  “I suddenly realised that the depiction of the childlike blacks I was now seeing on the screen, the reverse image of Conrad’s dark savages, was what my mother had carried with her to Hawaii all those years before, a reflection of the simple fantasies that had been forbidden to a white, middle-class girl from Kansas, the promise of another life: warm, sensual, exotic, different.”

I can’t say that I disagree.  As a good post-colonialist and strategic essentialist, I struggle with how Asian (particularly Vietnamese) cultures are represented in film and in literature.  It gets tiring trying to assert individuality in the face of archetype and expectation.  Marcel Camus has all the best intentions:  vibrant colors, expressionistic lighting, enough gold lame to catch a whale, Breno Mello shirtless at every turn.  But for all its beauty, Black Orpheus still seems reductionist.  The favelas:  they’re not so bad, if you ignore the occasional firebombings from jealous girlfriends.

So I leave it to film critic Peter Bradshaw to explain how it’s important to remember one’s own context in relation to the film.  It’s a matter too, perhaps, of refusing to be satisfied with the Muzak in the atmosphere exhorting you to consume and discovering, instead, with where a more authentic beauty may reside.  Consider:  receiving something in a processed form may spur a person to discover its more ‘unadulterated’ forms.  I graduated from the pleasant-enough Germans Mo’ Horizons to Otto, Joycé, and Celso Fonseca.  Who’s to say that being exposed to Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luis Bonfá via Marcel Camus won’t lead to a full immersion in João Gilberto and Caetano Veloso via Walter Salles and Hector Babenco?  Heck, all the Portuguese I’ve learned has been from bossa nova songs.  Felicidade!

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